Elizabeth Ann Smart-Gilmour (born November 3, 1987) is an American child safety activist and contributor for ABC News. She first gained national attention at the age of 14 when she was abducted from her home in Salt Lake City. Her abductor, Brian David Mitchell, and his wife Wanda Barzee, held Smart captive for nine months before she was rescued by authorities.
After her abduction, Smart has gone on to work as an activist and advocate for missing persons. Her life and abduction have been the subject of numerous non-fiction books and films.
Smart in 2012
|Born||Elizabeth Ann Smart
November 3, 1987
Salt Lake City, Utah, U.S.
|Alma mater||Brigham Young University (B.M.)|
|Spouse(s)||Matthew Gilmour (m. 2012)|
Smart was born November 3, 1987 in Salt Lake City, Utah, to Edward "Ed" and Lois Smart. She was raised in a Mormon family, with four brothers and one sister; she is the second-oldest child in her family. Smart attended Bryant Middle School in Salt Lake City, and later, Brigham Young University, where she earned her Bachelor of Music in harp performance.
On June 5, 2002, Smart was abducted at knifepoint from her bedroom in her family's house in Salt Lake City, Utah. She was rescued by police officers nine months later on March 12, 2003, on a public street in Sandy, Utah, 18 miles from her home, following the help of an America's Most Wanted episode. She had been in the captivity of Brian David Mitchell and Wanda Ileen Barzee. Her abduction and rescue were widely reported and were the subject of a made-for-TV movie, titled The Elizabeth Smart Story, and non-fiction books.
On October 1, 2009, Smart testified that she was raped three or four times daily, tied up and threatened with death if she attempted to escape.
On November 16, 2009, Barzee agreed to plead guilty to assisting in the kidnapping of Elizabeth Smart, as part of a plea bargain with prosecutors. On May 19, 2010, Barzee was sentenced to 15 years in federal prison. As part of a plea deal between the defense and federal prosecutors, federal Judge Dale A. Kimball gave Barzee credit for seven years that she had already served.
On March 1, 2010, Mitchell was found competent by Judge Kimball to stand trial in federal court for the kidnapping and sexual assault charges; his trial began on November 8, 2010, and a month later the jury found Mitchell guilty on both counts. On May 25, 2011, Mitchell was sentenced to two life terms in federal prison.
On March 8, 2006, Smart went before Congress to support sexual predator legislation and the AMBER Alert system, and on July 26, 2006, she spoke after the signing of the Adam Walsh Act. In May 2008, she traveled to Washington, D.C., where she helped present a book, You're Not Alone, published by the U.S. Department of Justice, which has entries written by her as well as four other recovered young adults. In 2009, Smart commented on the kidnapping of Jaycee Lee Dugard, stressing that dwelling upon the past is unproductive. On October 27, 2009, Elizabeth spoke at the 2009 Women's Conference in California, hosted by Maria Shriver, on overcoming obstacles in life.
In 2011, Smart founded the Elizabeth Smart Foundation, which aims to support the Internet Crimes Against Children task force and to educate children about violent and sexual crime. The Foundation is in the process of merging with Operation Underground Railroad to combine efforts in the fight against human trafficking.
In July 2012, Smart was honored by Theta Phi Alpha National Fraternity with the Siena Medal award. The medal is the highest honor the organization bestows upon a non-member and is named after their patroness, St. Catherine of Siena.
On May 1, 2013, in a speech at a human trafficking conference at Johns Hopkins University, Smart discussed the need to emphasize individual self-worth in fighting human trafficking, and the importance of dispelling cultural myths surrounding girls' loss of value upon sexual contact. Having been raped by her captor, she recalled the destructive impact of exposure to sexual education programs where a sexually active girl is compared to a chewed piece of gum. "I thought, 'Oh, my gosh, I'm that chewed up piece of gum, nobody re-chews a piece of gum, you throw it away.' And that's how easy it is to feel like you no longer have worth, you no longer have value," Smart said. "Why would it even be worth screaming out? Why would it even make a difference if you are rescued? Your life still has no value." Smart went on to ask that listeners educate children on having self-worth, and how to avoid becoming a victim.
In February 2014, Smart testified before the Utah State House of Representatives in favor of HB 286, a bill that would create an optional curriculum for use in Utah schools to provide training on child sexual abuse prevention.
In early 2015, Smart was featured in a video produced by Faith Counts in which she explains how her religious belief sustained her through her ordeal and helped her heal.
On November 11, 2009, Smart left Salt Lake City to serve a Mormon mission in Paris. Smart returned temporarily from her mission in November 2010 to serve as the chief witness in the federal trial of Brian David Mitchell. After the end of the trial, she returned to France to finish her mission, coming home to Utah in early 2011.
While serving as missionaries in the Paris Mission, Smart met Scotland native Matthew Gilmour. In January 2012, after a courtship of one year, they became engaged. They married on February 18, 2012, in a private ceremony in the Laie Hawaii Temple.
In October 2013, My Story, a memoir of Smart's experience written with Chris Stewart, was published by St. Martin's Press. The book details both Smart's kidnapping and the formation of the Elizabeth Smart Foundation which works to promote awareness about abduction.
Smart has performed harp on national television in the United States.
Smart's uncle, Tom Smart, and author Lee Benson wrote a book about the search for Smart, In Plain Sight: The Startling Truth Behind the Elizabeth Smart Investigation. Another book about Smart's kidnapping was written by her father, called Bringing Elizabeth Home. A television movie, The Elizabeth Smart Story, was made in 2003, based on the book by Smart's father.